with Wak Lyf
September 28, 2012
Lil B's rare all-ages performance at Cabooze on Friday promised to be a spectacle, and it certainly delivered. His polarizing "based" style has raised the ire of traditionalist rap fans, but the young crowd present at his show loved him as if he were everything.
Lil B specifically requested no opening acts, and the beginning of the show built an anticipatory tension as the Wak Lyf DJs spun bass-heavy hits in an attempt to rile the crowd. The front of the stage was packed tight, but few people were really moving at this point; the occasional Waka Flocka track inspired some reception, but in general, everyone was waiting for the Based God. DJ Neuport would scream "Based!" and the like to try to amp people, and it worked at brief intervals, but his biggest response was from playing Lil Wayne's collaboration with Lil B "Grove St Party". Everyone seemed to be storing energy for when Lil B himself arrived onstage.
When the lights went low and the beat for "Task Force" began to play, that energy started to release, and basically remained constant through the length of the show. All ages shows are actually rare these days, and the youthful exuberance was something unique to most shows I've been to in a while. Lil B soaked up the audiences awe, speaking directly to them after every track about his based philosophy and giving the love right back. He asked, "Do we got any positive people in the building tonight?" and got an enthusiastic reply, and spreading an air of positivity remained a main theme of the night.
"People ask me what 'based' means... It means stayin' positive. Being yourself. Spread love. Everybody in here is connected, everybody in here could be your friend," he said to the crowd, right after playing "Ima Eat Her Ass," and followed by saying "I love you" a dozen times. It's an odd juxtaposition to see someone onstage demanding you respect women after rapping "Bitch shake that ass on my dick," and it created a separation of sorts between the songs and the personality; Lil B is a rapper who creates music, but a large portion of his art is simply him as a human being.
Widely criticized for being unabashedly terrible at rapping, Lil B is also praised for shaking up rap's conventions and turning rap tropes on their head. He rapped without backing tracks, save for the back-up ad-libs intentionally left in, and hit every line even though the lines were off-track to begin with. It's true that most of his songs are off-beat and often don't rhyme, but there are multiple lines that catch your ear simply because no one's ever really said it on a track before.
The positivity angle might be hard to swallow with the words "bitch" and "hoe" being thrown around like they're nothing, but his persona between tracks is glowingly righteous and generally fun, which hip-hop sorely needs right now. It's a really strange feeling that I didn't fully appreciate until I began cooking, which is Lil B's trademark dance, and became one with the crowd. Anytime I pulled away to write something down or overthink the show, I lost perspective. A lot of people caught the vibe and were dancing insane, ripping their shirts off, hugging the people next to them, and even throwing money onstage. "Stop throwing money at me!" Lil B shouted after the fourth instance of bills flying towards him. "I should be throwing ya'll money! Ya'll the most important!"